Saturday, July 9, 2011

Yankees Win With Jeter's 2999th, 3000th, 3001st, 3002nd & 3003rd

Okay, let's get right to it: John Sterling is alive and well. He did not work himself into a heart attack as a result of this game.

Next most important thing: As Sterling himself would say, "Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeee Yankees win!"

NOW the thing everyone wants to talk about: Derek Jeter got his 3,000th career hit today.

And more. He went 5-for-5, including the game-winning single in the bottom of the 8th inning.

And the 3,000th? I was hoping it would be a clean hit. No close play at first, to make us wonder if he was safe or out -- as in the movie Mr. 3000 with the late, great Bernie Mac. No drive on the foul line to make us wonder if it was fair or foul. A clean, indisputable hit.

Not much disputable about this hit: A home run. And to the deepest part of the park, too: The Bleachers in left-center field. Granted, it's not the 461-foot Death Valley that it was in the pre-renovation old Stadium, or even the 430 that it was from 1976 to 1984. But it's 399 out there, and he hit it way back, probably around 440 feet.

He was only the 2nd player ever to do it with a home run. The first was his former teammate, Wade Boggs, in 1999. Oddly, neither of them is known as a power hitter. Whereas guys like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski, who hit the hell out of the ball, didn't get it with homers. Doesn't matter, they got it, and now, so has Derek.

A.J. Burnett started for the Yankees, and was inconsistent, looking like Good A.J. one inning, Bad A.J. the next. When the Yanks took the lead off Joel Peralta (2-3), David Robertson was the pitcher of record (2-0).

And, just as it wouldn't have been right for Jeter to get Number 3,000 anywhere but Yankee Stadium (albeit in the new one), it wouldn't have been right to end the game with anything other than a Yankee win sealed by Mariano Rivera (SV, 22). Which puts him closer to milestones as well, closing in on 600 saves and all-time leader Trevor Hoffman with 601.

Alex Rodriguez is the player most likely to be the next one to get to 3,000, as he has 2,762 and was hitting like crazy lately, but an MRI reveals he's got a torn meniscus in his knee. He will almost certainly have to go on the Disabled List, but with the All-Star Break starting after tomorrow afternoon's game, he won't miss as many games as he could have. Besides, Eduardo Nunez has been hitting well, subbing for both Derek and A-Rod; in fact, Nunez led off the 8th with a double and was the winning run driven in by Derek.

*

On May 30, 1995, Derek Jeter played his second major league game, and got his first major league hit. And his second. It wasn't enough, as the Yankees lost 7-3 to the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome. Derek batted 9th, against Tim Belcher, who was starting against Melido Perez, who lost the game, while the winning pitcher was soon-to-be Yankee Jeff Nelson. The attendance was 10,709. At the time, the figure was not considered remarkable.

On June 3, 1995, Derek played his second home game and got his first home hit. Shawn Boskie gave it up, but he still outpitched Jack McDowell, and the Yankees lost to the team then known as the California Angels, 4-2. The attendance at the old Yankee Stadium was 17,768. At the time, the figure was not considered remarkable.

On July 8, 2011, 16 years, 1 month and 9 days after his first big-league hit, Derek got his 3,000th, off David Price, and the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4. The attendance at the new Yankee Stadium was 48,103. At the time, the figure was not considered remarkable. My, how times have changed.

One more thing: All you people who said Derek wasn't worth a big new contract?

You owe him three thousand apologies. I'll settle for one.

*

Jeter hits 3003 DONE
Rivera saves 581 20
A-Rod homers 626 137
A-Rod hits 2762 238
Magic Number 75 (to eliminate Scum, 71 for Rays, 62 for Jays, 61 for O's)

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